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‘Mona Lisa’ survives cake attack

An environmental activist smeared cake on the iconic painting at the Louvre Museum, yelling at onlookers to ‘think of the Earth’

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Employees of the Louvre hold the “Mona Lisa” in the museum.

Employees of the Louvre hold the “Mona Lisa” in the museum.

P Ballif, Associated Press

Disguised as an old woman, a man used a wheelchair to roll up to the “Mona Lisa” at the Louvre Museum in Paris on Sunday. Jumping out of the wheelchair, he smeared a piece of cake across the glass protecting the painting, according to NPR.

According to The Associated Press, as security escorted the 36-year-old man out of the museum, he shouted to onlookers, “Think of the Earth! There are people who are destroying the Earth! Think about it. Artists tell you: Think of the Earth. That’s why I did this.”

Although frosting smeared the protective glass, Leonardo da Vinci’s masterpiece remained otherwise unscathed.

This wasn’t the first attempted attack on the painting, according to NPR. The “Mona Lisa” wasn’t always considered a widely known painting. Although French intelligentsia hailed it as a Renaissance masterpiece in the 1860s, the “Mona Lisa” was only well known in the art world.

But a theft made the painting famous.

In 1911, a still-life artist set up his easel to paint the gallery where the “Mona Lisa” is housed in the Louvre. He noticed the painting’s absence and informed the guards. Immediately after discovering it was stolen, the missing painting became something of an international scandal, drawing attention to the painting itself.

The painting remained missing for 28 months before one of the thieves, Vincenzo Perugia, tried to sell the painting to an art dealer in Florence. Perugia accomplished the theft with two others and had intimate knowledge of how to do it since he worked as a handyman at the Louvre and installed the protective glass case around the painting.

The art dealer in Florence confirmed the painting’s authenticity and sent the police after Perugia. Perugia pleaded guilty and was sentenced to eight months in prison. However, this theft created the legacy that the “Mona Lisa” has today.

The painting has been kept behind glass since the 1950s, when a museum visitor threw acid at the painting, according to the “Today” show. As recently as 2009, a tourist threw terra cotta at the painting and cracked the glass around the painting.

This latest cake attack did not cause any damage to the painting. An investigation has been launched into the damage of cultural artifacts, according to Time magazine.